Fake pharmaceuticals form the largest segment of the global counterfeit industry – reaching an estimated USD 200 Billion out of the USD 1.8 Trillion (in value) of counterfeit goods sold every year. The menace is growing rapidly.

An International Problem

Fake medicines have spread across borders – even in countries with high standards of regulation – a case in point being Germany, where authorities confiscated 4 Million counterfeit tablets in 2015. In other geographies like Africa, the share of fake medications is estimated to be as high as 70%.

From Lifestyle to Lifesaving Medications

Counterfeit medications have become more dangerous as they move from the realm of lifestyle medications to life-saving pharmaceuticals. Over 50% of the fake medications sold today are treatments for life threatening illnesses like HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Cancer. The toll can be measured in human lives – over 450,000 preventable deaths due to Malaria every year are caused by counterfeit medicines.

Harmful and Ineffective

Counterfeit medications harm the consumer in two ways – the medication doesn’t contain the ingredients that make it effective, and can often contain harmful chemicals and additives as well. For example – fake medicines have been detected to contain rat poison or floor wax.

Bad Medications are now a Health Problem

The impact of fake medication is slated to become another health crisis in itself. One out of 4 physicians who responded to a survey in the United Kingdom said that they have provided treatment for patients who have suffered adverse effects of medications that they bought online, which proved to be harmful.


Within the definition of counterfeit medication, there are three broad classifications – Substandard, Unregistered/Unlicensed and Falsified. Substandard medications don’t meet the quality specifications or standards in place for those medications. Unregistered medications have not even undergone evaluation by the approved bodies for the market in which they are distributed. Falsified medications deliberately misrepresent the identity, composition or source. In some cases, the medicines maybe genuine but have been stolen, and then are wrongly stored or expired – This can cause them to be ineffective and contaminated.

Impact During COVID

There has been a surge in counterfeit drugs and medical products during the COVID pandemic. In a widely covered action, Europol seized 4 million packets of various counterfeit drugs and 34,000 fake surgical masks. In just one week in 2020, INTERPOL countries inspected 326,000 packages, of which 48,000 were seized by the authorities. In the case of the Coronavirus pandemic, the counterfeiters have tried to get medications into the market before the actual manufacturers can bring it to the consumer.

Understanding and Beating Counterfeiters

The key parameter for success for Counterfeiters is their ability to package products in a way that mimics genuine medications. We can beat them using our unique and patented technology – Any consumer with a mobile phone can verify their product within seconds, by simply taking a photo of the packaging. To know more, visit: https://ennoventure.com/use-case/